Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Loving Film With an Open Heart

I have a dilemma. I profess to love movies. Many interests in my life have come and gone with varying degrees of passion, but my love of film has never wavered. It crept into my heart at an early age and remains strong to this day. But I have this little problem....
Richard Haydn - one of my favorite cinematic snobs - am I like him?
When it comes to creativity and movies, I've always considered myself to be democratic. I figure that a lot of people went through a lot of trouble to create something, so, even if I don't like it, I should respect it. If there is one thing I never wanted to be, it's a "movie snob." Now, if you, dear reader, are one, please, please forgive me. I utterly respect your right to cinema snobbishness. Here I want to address what I consider to be my own insidious snobbishness. Somehow it has crept into my heart and I want to perform an exorcism now!
Movie Snobbishness - GET OUT!!!!!!!
Since I started blogging about classic film, I find myself going to the movies less and less. Instead, I am immersed in TCM and DVDs. Consequently, I am rather clueless about the current shows at the multiplex. Worse, I find myself turning my nose up at the latest offerings without having seen them. Unforgivable.

Now, I will probably never be someone who loves "The Hunger Games" or the "Twilight" series. But, millions do love them and isn't that what the movie-going experience is all about? As a movie-lover, shouldn't I be glad that so many are finding enjoyment and excitement and entertainment in the medium I love? 

This feeling of oncoming snobbishness really hit home last year, the year of "Midnight in Paris," "Hugo," and "The Artist." These three films lured me to the theater and I must admit I was so happy to see these wonderful films with an audience. I had forgotten what a pleasurable experience it is to share a laugh, a gasp and a sigh. Since so many people I knew had seen these films, I was thrilled to be able to discuss them. But they didn't get all the cinematic historical references in "Hugo" and "The Artist" and I found myself taking a smug and superior tone and acting a bit like this guy behind Woody Allen:


Okay, I wasn't quite that bad, but I realize that if I don't make some changes, I might be in danger of joining the ranks of the movie snobs.


So, like Charles Foster Kane, I think I need to set forth a "Declaration of Principles" (movie-snob-wise, that is):

1. Don't knock it before you've seen it.
2. Get off of your butt and go to the movies at least once a month. There are great artists out there that you are missing.
3. Just because it's popular doesn't mean it's bad.
4. Understand that even if you don't like it, someone else might and that the love of film keeps the medium alive.
5. It's all about the joy and the entertainment, so stop turning your nose up!
6. Interest in the current is a road to appreciation of the past (look at the interest in silent films sparked by "The Artist").
7. When someone is enthusiastic about a film, LISTEN to them; listen for the excitement and the pleasure in their voice, rather than trying to figure out if you are going to give it a thumbs up or down.
8. Not every movie has to be a classic.
9. Don't forget that movies are supposed to be fun, so have fun!

I'm determined to give it a try. This is not to say that I could ever abandon Chaplin, Keaton, Cary Grant, Cagney or Garbo, but I don't want to be entombed in the past. The great thing about the classics is that they will always be there. No matter how unsure life is, you can count on them. That will never change. And I am nothing if not loyal to my old, true friends.
The ecstasy of movies - now and forever.


29 comments:

Jan Miner said...

Great post! I read it with interest and understanding. This is because for someone who went to film school for four years many moons ago, I now see very few films (old or new). What's up with that!

Gilby37 said...

Awesome post! Loving old films is very special but there are some out there worth seeing. I rarely see "new" films because there are so many great movies on TCM and DVD. However, I have been watching more films that years ago I would not have bothered to watch. To my pleasant surprise, I found many new favorites. Bravo on open your heart!

FlickChick said...

@ Jan - hey, girlfriend - I always wondered about that! Well, I am committing to getting my butt off of the couch and into the seat at the multiplex, so you are welcome to tag along when the spirit moves you.

FlickChick said...

@ Gilby - thanks so much. I know your post was also prompted by a recent discussion and it is fun to have our brain jarred a bit, isn't it? I love my TCM and I love my DVR, but movies should be seen at the movies, so I'm going!

The Lady Eve said...

Whether you get out and go to the movies more often or opt to stick with the sofa and TCM/DVDs/etc., you'll still be my favorite Flick Chick. But f you do start seeing more current films, how about some recommendations?

karen said...

Sorry, but everyone should be critical of our art forms. How will we grow and get better without critics? I'm a commercial artist and I've turned out my share of crap. If it goes by without notice it becomes acceptable. I just finished watching "The Iron Lady" and it was very well done. I also recently saw "Hugo" and thought it weak. We all can't agree on everything. I appreciate a really well crafted new movie, but I adore a classic film from the 30s or 40s. I can't change.
.......... Karen Reilly
p.s. Thought "Midnight In Paris" was delightful, but it wasn't "It Happened One Night".

knobgobbler said...

I agree with Karen!
I've always assumed that the bulk of movies from any given year are going to be crap. That we have this wonderful vantage point of looking back at 100+ years of cinema and seeing the best of the best... and ignoring the rest. While in our own time... whole years go by with nothing I'd want to see.
Still, my Netflix queue is FULL and a lot of those are newer movies... but they're 'foreign' or 'small' and never made it onto the precious territory of our local screens (I counted once, we had 200+ screens but there were only 30 different movies showing).

My own issue is that I've gotten so used to watching films from the comfort of my home that I've lost the tolerance for viewing with a crowd... especially the cell-phone infused, TV naturalized ones that haunt those places these days.

KimWilson said...

Everyone is a movie snob! You, at least, know that you are one while countless others live in the bubble. I've seen more movies than I care to admit, and I can assure you that some were: excellent, good, average, bad, and horrible. You know how I know this? Because I watched them and then made my own personal judgment. Old, new, B&W, color, silent, or sound--I've seen them all. Films are a passionate hobby of mine, but I know that there are many people out there who don't get it. I accept that. Obviously, you have accepted that, too.

One point of contention, though. I rarely go to the movies (for a variety of reasons, most notably it is too hard to go unnoticed in a college town), but I still see most newer films (not all, of course) in a timely fashion. Perhaps when I retire to Paris this will not be an issue, but for now I'll have to depend on my connections for advanced copies that I can watch in the privacy of my humble abode.

FlickChick said...

@ Lady Eve - well, I am going to try to get out at least once a month. I probably won't address them on the blog site (as they don't qualify as "classic"), but maybe on my 2nd site - My Movie Dream Book. I hope I choose wisely!

FlickChick said...

@ Karen: this is just a strictly personal observation about my own behavior. I don't think I'll be putting "The Hunger Games" up there with "Citizen Kane," but I can't honestly compare unless I see them both. True, "Midnight in Paris" is not "It Happened One Night," but does every movie have to be a classic or compare to a classic? Can't it just be enjoyable?

FlickChick said...

@ knobgobbler - I know how you feel - I just want to try to keep a bit more "in touch." My natural inclination is to watch something familiar (whether it be the film or the star. I think it's good for me to shake up my thinking once in a while.

FlickChick said...

Thanks, Kim. I admit that I need to see more current films, so that's my mission. This way, if I don't like it, at least I'm making an informed opinion. As for being seen, I am completely unknown and anonymous and can flit in and out of all multiplexes and art houses with almost invisible powers!

Dave the Movie Guy said...

FC - I guess I can admit to being a movie snob. But don't forget, there are also lots of people out there who won't even make an attempt to watch a classic film simply because they don't want to watch anything that's filmed in glorious b&w.

I haven't been to the theater in a while but recently went to see the one-day Casablanca screening and had a really good time. Probably because everyone already knew what to expect.

I try to watch newer releases now and then but usually, not always, end up a little disappointed for one reason or another.

FlickChick said...

Hi Dave - I didn't promise I'd like them! I just feel it's important not to get stuck in the past and miss out on some potentially good things. It's true that some folks won't give the classics a chance, but they are reverse-snobs (or just have bad taste!)and they are missing so much. I try to remember that the classics we love were made for the the-then current audience and were meant to have an immediate "feel" to them. It's a fine line, but many film makers today were brought up on those classics and those films inform their current work. And, it's always fun for me to see a refernce or homage to a great film of the past in a present work - makes me feel all warm & fuzzy (& smart).

KimWilson said...

FC: You are lucky! I can't even go to the grocery store in my quaint town without being recognized by at least one student. I teach a survey course every semester that finds me looking out at about 200-250 students 2 times a week for 15 weeks. They know me by name, but I don't know them. They see me in the grocery, restaurants, the library, etc., and they want to say hello and tell me how much they love my class. All the while they look to see what I have in my shopping cart, on my plate, or in my hands--it is an occupational hazard.

FlickChick said...

Ah, Kim - the price of fame! Have you tried the big sunglasses look?

KimWilson said...

LOL! You think it's funny, huh? Ever heard that one of your students wrote on their Twitter account that you'd by grumpy in class the next day because they saw you buying tampons at the store?

Page said...

FlickChick,
I think we all find ourselves enjoying the comfort of home where we can easily turn our TV's over to TCM and have hours of entertainment due to the films we love.

I do go see a lot of movies but they are usually Indie films or the ones with Oscar nods. Last year provided us with a jackpot as far as quality films. Do yourself a favor and watch Albert Nobbs and The Iron Lady if you haven't already seen them. Carnage was also very good.

I plan to see Titanic in 3D next weekend with a friend who's not yet seen Titanic. That is if it's raining and we can't play golf.

You're not a snob my dear! You're just very selective in what you spend your money on. (You won't see me in line to see any Twilight film either) : )
Page

karen said...

@ Flick Chick.......I did say "Midnight in Paris" was delightful.
I don't feel the need to watch everything. Most new films are too depressing or too stupid. It seems like without knowing it they're documenting the end of civilization. After all I could be reading, drawing, painting, or something.

Diane said...

I have a dilemma, I now profess to loving your blogs. This is one of my favorites.
So I will now be trotting my way out to the local theater at least once a month. Snob...you say.

FlickChick said...

Oh, poor Kim! It's not easy being famous! I hope no YouTube videos will be popping up...

FlickChick said...

@ Karen - you should do what makes you happy and brings you pleasure. This is just a personal thing for me.

FlickChick said...

@ Page - well, I am trying NOT to be a snob, that's for sure. And by going once a month, that will only cost me 12 movies. When I think of the cost of cable TV - now that really makes me mad!

FlickChick said...

@ Diane - I'm counting on you to make sure I fulfill my once a month commitment.

R.A. Kerr said...

I agree with everything you said. And I had to laugh at the Woody Allen film clip - I am EXACTLY like that boorish fellow!! (Really, it's a wonder that anyone agrees to go to the movies with me.) I'm glad you pointed out that there are some great movies being made these days.

FlickChick said...

Thanks, R.A. Kerr - it's so nice to be agreed with! You are a brave soul to admt to your behavior (but I'll be it's not that bad). I's funny, but when we are young, we love all the new movies and when we get older we feel comfortable seeing more old or familar ones. I don't know when the change occurs exactly, but I am going to try to slow the process down a bit for myself!

Caftan Woman said...

I think I've passed through my movie snob phase. At least I try to be accepting of newer films and other people's taste. However, ave you ever noticed that there is the contemporary film fan who is snobby in turn about the classics fan? They make it difficult to keep to the high ground.

I don't know about principle #2. When I get my butt out to a theatre it is usually for something like the recent Toronto Silent Film Festival. All of the recent releases that I think look interesting seem to hit the DVD rack or pay-for-view before I make the time to get out of the house. I guess the road to the multi-plex is paved with good intentions.

FlickChick said...

@ CW - yes inded - snobs come in all ages! As for going to the theater, it probably has something to do with getting older and comfortable, but there is such a thing as getting too comfortable, so I am going to make the effort. By the way, notice I'm making this pledge in the spring? Check back in the dead of winter and see if I've kept my promise! Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

ClassicBecky said...

I didn't read all the comments, Chick, but for myself, I know great cinema when I see it, and it isn't all in the classic era, although that is my favorite. I also like a lot of movies that would cause a movie snob to throw up their hands in horror. It's funny, but Kim and I decided that our Two Dames Dishing post this month would be about movies we are ashamed of liking -- but I'm not really ashamed! Why should I be?

Your article made me think of something Cecil B. DeMille said: "I don't make movies for critics, I make them for people."